The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila

"Beside me on the left appeared an angel in bodily form . . . He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest ranks of angels, who seem to be all on fire . . . In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one can not possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it -- even a considerable share." (Teresa of Avila, Autobiography,
ch. 29).

As you can see in the picture, the ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila is shown in this famous Bernini sculpture. How do you relate this motif to John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV ("Batter my heart, three-personed God")? In Donne's poem, have you found any similar paradoxes that conflate sexual violence with spiritual/religious epiphanies?

To His Coy Mistress--Any Questions?

As we talked in class today, "To His Coy Mistress" is a famous carpe diem poem, in which the speaker lures the lady (called "mistress" not for her adulterous relationship with the speaker but for her social position or power over her wooers)to sleep with him. The theme of the poem is the transience of time: beauty will fade and youth will flee, so what is important is to "seize the day" and to savor the present as if there were no tomorrows.

The poem follows the three stages in logic: (1)If we had all the time in the world...(2) But we don't...(3)So let's have sex.

Krystal is the presenter of this poem, so if you guys have any further questions, don't hesitate! Post your questions and Krystal will answer them for you.


Song of the week--I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen

The focus of this week (and also next week) is on Donne's poetry, in which LOVE is repeatedly presented as something positive in a dark world. The capacity of LOVE is so intense that it can eclipse time, space, and the conventional demands of custom and society. As a poet who praises human love for its almighty power, Donne is the best! Although his cunning and slipperiness make us frequently doubt if he is serious or tongue-in-cheek, he indeed has the power to have his readers totally carried away.

Below is our song of the week, a canonical love song written/sung by Leonard Cohen, a Canadian poet, novelist, singer and songwriter. It is also about LOVE,but is with a modern streak. The second video is a queer rendition of Cohen's "I'm Your Man," a performance punctuated with transgressive sexiness and titillation.


The wife's firmness draws his circle justly

Please take a look at the following video, which is an interpretation of John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.” After viewing the video and digesting the poem, put yourself in the position of the female role being addressed by the speaker. Do you think the speaker is a witty and charming person? Is he convincing? Or if you were the lady being addressed by the speaker, what would be your reaction? Would you like to be a stay-at-home wife, while your husband happily “roams” outside and claims that he still loves you?


Welcom on board

Welcome to this new blog, a place for literary collaborators to create writings and exchange ideas.